A friend of mine made an eloquent post on the dominant social media site this Valentine's day about how love isn't just a Hallmark card to your romantic interest or significant other; but something we, as creatures sharing a small blue planet in a vast sea of emptiness, can and should share alike with one another, and with our true mother, the earth.
The responses were mostly positive, but I was dismayed at the number of people who thought it appropriate, or funny, to dump cynicism all over the idea that we could actually love one another. The most frequently seen pejorative in the thread: "Hippie!"
Why does the world turn its back on love so easily?
Like anything involving humans it's never simple or black-and-white. Some of the negativity was attempts at jokes. Some because cynicism sounds cool. Some came from folks whose life situation makes them bitter. And so on.
But perhaps there's something deeper, more profound at work here. A pattern, even, that originates in a deep unconscious place inside us. A legacy that once stood our ancestors in good stead, but now in a world filled to the brim is just holding us back.
Those of us in the United States (and Europe) who trace our heritage back to what could be called the Dominant Culture of the last several centuries are the sons and daughters of the "winners." The story of humanity since agriculture was adopted is a struggle for resources, and if any clear lesson can be drawn from long sad story of human history it's that the winners are the ones with the most power. The losers had less power, which is why they lost. Justice had nothing to do with it.
Power is a subtle thing. Part of it is simply having the resources but a large part is internal to the humans in a culture. An attitude, if you will. I sometimes call it the Culture of Tough.
In the Culture of Tough, compassion is a loser. Caring about your fellow humans is weakness. In a world filled with orcs -- inhuman others out to get you -- the willingness, even eagerness, to use violence is necessary. Masculine is tough, a winner; feminine is soft, a loser.
Love is weak, hate is strong.
Only the strong get the goodies. The weak only exist to serve the strong.
Yes -- this worldview may to loathsome to you and to me. But there's little doubt that in times past, it led certain cultures to generate more power and dominate -- erase in some cases -- other more tolerant societies.
Many of us are the sons and daughters of the winners. Some of us have the Culture of Tough deep in our bones. Most of those that consciously espouse these views can be found on the right side of the aisle. It's a defining characteristic of theirs.
This lovey-dovey crap has to be smacked down, they know. That's why "hippie!" is a pejorative. Get too weak -- allow weak effeminate men to marry, for instance -- and the orcs of the world will come conquer us and take our stuff and our freedoms.
I believe that the times when these attitudes were ugly winners are past us now. We need to be moving to new, more peaceful paradigms. But that may be a minority view, still, sadly. The transition will be slow and painful.
And probably be filled with accusations: "hippie!"
Someday, that will be a complement. I accept it as one now.